Midnight in Paris

Last night Tina and I watched the Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris”, a wonderfully gentle film.

When I was young I dreamed of going to Paris, studying at the Sorbonne, writing and being a photographer.  i loved the film of Truffaut, Malle and Goddard.

It was a romantic fantasy that would never happen.  Being transsexual and having to deal with that had a way of interrupting fantasies.

I took other paths lived out other crazy dreams.  I was a hippie in the Haight and Berkeley.  Lived on Sunset Boulevard, mingled with rock gods and movie stars.  I’ve studied in a number of the finest schools in the country, one or two classes at a time.

In 2002 when I was in New York I hunted down the addresses where people like Jackson Pollack had lived, visited the cemetery where he and Lee Krasner are buried, saw the house where he lived in East Hampton.

I took a few drawing and painting classes at the Art Students’ League, where some of the greatest of America’s modern artists have either studied or taught.

I spent hours in Strand’s books with its claustrophobic shelves that groan under the weight of hundreds of thousands of used books.

Owen Wilson’s character was a romantic who dreamed of a Paris of the 1920s, his fiance was the daughter of a right wing materialist her only thoughts, as well as those of her family were of possessions and status.

I was totally charmed when Woody Allen gave Shakespeare and Co, one of the world’s truly greatest book stores a cameo appearance.  For Paris’ Shakespeare and Co. has house many writers over the years, expats who have gone to Paris to find themselves and to write.  They crash among the stacks of Shakespeare and Co where they were coddled and cajoled by  George Whitman, the bookstore proprietor who sadly passed away last December.  Even the modern store run by Whitman was an invocation of an earlier Shakespeare and Co run by  Sylvia Beach, a bookstore that dated from that magical period in the 1920 when Paris was the place for artists to go.

I loved the authors and artists of Paris in the Twenties since I was a teenager first discovering Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Picasso and Man Ray.

I think it is important that we don’t get so caught up with having to deal with transsexualism or transgenderism that we lose touch with our romantic fantasies and if Paris is beyond our reach there is always a used book store or a coffee house or even an art film with subtitles, perhaps in black and white, something like Breathless ( À bout de souffle) or Jules and Jim to remind us of a time when we felt romantic dreams were possible.

I’m bored with car chases and impossible gun fights and action heroes.  They have become boring, I’ve seen too many and set in present times they are too dystopian they are to much like commercials that hype fear to sell me a police state.  I miss movies with women in them, I miss intelligent dialogue, witty repartee.

If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend “Midnight in Paris”.

Potential barriers to “curing” homosexuality

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Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

Perhaps if we gave up hard core gender indoctrination from the cradle we would find out what parts of gender are natural and what parts are the result of programming.

From Slate:   http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_sweden_s_new_gender_neutral_pronoun_causes_controversy_.html

A country tries to banish gender.

Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012

By most people’s standards, Sweden is a paradise for liberated women. It has the highest proportion of working women in the world, and women earn about two-thirds of all degrees. Standard parental leave runs at 480 days, and 60 of those days are reserved exclusively for dads, causing some to credit the country with forging the way for a new kind of nurturing masculinity. In 2010, the World Economic Forum designated Sweden as the most gender-equal country in the world.

But for many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal but gender-neutral. The idea is that the government and society should tolerate no distinctions at all between the sexes. This means on the narrow level that society should show sensitivity to people who don’t identify themselves as either male or female, including allowing any type of couple to marry. But that’s the least radical part of the project. What many gender-neutral activists are after is a society that entirely erases traditional gender roles and stereotypes at even the most mundane levels.

Activists are lobbying for parents to be able to choose any name for their children (there are currently just 170 legally recognized unisex names in Sweden). The idea is that names should not be at all tied to gender, so it would be acceptable for parents to, say, name a girl Jack or a boy Lisa. A Swedish children’s clothes company has removed the “boys” and “girls” sections in its stores, and the idea of dressing children in a gender-neutral manner has been widely discussed on parenting blogs. This Swedish toy catalog recently decided to switch things around, showing a boy in a Spider-Man costume pushing a pink pram, while a girl in denim rides a yellow tractor.

The Swedish Bowling Association has announced plans to merge male and female bowling tournaments in order to make the sport gender-neutral. Social Democrat politicians have proposed installing gender-neutral restrooms so that members of the public will not be compelled to categorize themselves as either ladies or gents. Several preschools have banished references to pupils’ genders, instead referring to children by their first names or as “buddies.” So, a teacher would say “good morning, buddies” or “good morning, Lisa, Tom, and Jack” rather than, “good morning, boys and girls.” They believe this fulfills the national curriculum’s guideline that preschools should “counteract traditional gender patterns and gender roles” and give girls and boys “the same opportunities to test and develop abilities and interests without being limited by stereotypical gender roles.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_sweden_s_new_gender_neutral_pronoun_causes_controversy_.html

Angela Davis speaks on struggles of feminism

From People’s World: http://peoplesworld.org/angela-davis-speaks-on-struggles-of-feminism/

by: Zac Smith
April 13 2012

LAWRENCE, Kansas – Professor and political activist Angela Davis addressed the University of Kansas here Feb 7 on the problems of feminism in capitalist society.  Davis, a former political prisoner, is active on prisoner rights and was a two-time Communist Party vice presidential candidate.

Davis commemorated the 40th anniversary of an event in which 30 members of the feminist group, February Sisters, occupied the University of Kansas’s East Asian Studies building. They called for the creation of new facilities for women, and did not leave the building until they were guaranteed an audience with university administrators, according to the University of Kansas History Collection.

“Looking at their demands, I am not only impressed by the Sisters’ militancy and courage, but I’m also impressed by the extent to which the demands they formulated then reflect concerns that, 40 years later, still have not been resolved,” Davis said.

“I was especially impressed by the fact that they demanded a free daycare center and the establishment of a women’s health center that, among other services, would provide free birth control, with the emphasis on ‘free.’ … Forty years later, women throughout the country need free daycare more than ever before.”

A point to which Davis returned throughout her speech was the need for feminists to be conscious of class and race as well as of gender. Davis also stressed the interdependence of the various issues that constitute the struggle for women’s rights.

“In 1971, I was in jail,” said Davis, drawing scattered laughter from the crowd.  “While I was in jail, I tried to participate as much as possible in movements that were unfolding in the so-called free world … There was a huge reproductive rights rally scheduled in San Francisco.  I was in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I was asked to write a statement that very specifically engaged with the issue of abortion rights.  Of course, I was in favor of women’s abortion rights, but I did not want to take women’s abortion rights out of the context of the broader conglomeration of issues that constitute women’s reproductive rights.

Continue reading at:  http://peoplesworld.org/angela-davis-speaks-on-struggles-of-feminism/

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The War on Women Voting

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/167369/war-women-voting

Brentin Mock
on April 12, 2012

Voting rights “evangelist” Faye Anderson says advocates who’ve been protesting new state photo voter ID laws have it all wrong. When voting rights advocates prop up elderly voters who might be disenfranchised because they may not have the correct form of ID, or the necessary documents to obtain proper voting ID, these are the wrong avatars for the campaigns.

“Advocates have done themselves a disservice by bringing up these 80- and 90-year-old voters. Those are not the votes who are disproportionately impacted by voter ID laws,” said Anderson in a phone interview. “As an advocate you want to influence public opinion and you’re not influencing them if you are putting up the faces of 80- and 90-year-old voters.”

Elderly voters losing out on voter participation is a very real thing, as evidenced recently in Wisconsin. But instead, she says advocates should be focused on voters who resemble her: A middle-aged New York transplant living in Philadelphia, who commutes up and down the East Coast, traveling without a driver’s license. Like many New Yorkers, Anderson doesn’t drive so she doesn’t need one. She has a non-driver’s photo identification from New York, and other than that she has a passport. It wasn’t easy getting a New York ID, Anderson told me, and she’s concerned chiefly with women like her who might also have troubles getting the ID they need to vote, especially if they’ve been recently married, divorced or if they’ve moved, all of which could lead to name and address mismatches on Election Day.

The new Pennsylvania photo voter ID law  is “disenfranchising by design to make voters jump through all these hoops,” said Anderson. “It’s unreasonable that women, with all that’s going on in their lives, will then have time to sit down and Google ‘where do I get my birth certificate,’ ‘where do I find my marriage certificate,’ ‘where to find the closest social security office,’ the hours they’re open, how to get there, and once there do they have all the documents they need.”

Anderson was able to do it, but she is a long-time voting rights advocate, and is trained to know the answers to these questions. But there are many women who are ill-served by the new photo voter ID laws. A Brennan Center for Justice survey shows that ten percent of voting-age Americans don’t have ID with both current name and address on it — many of those are women whose last names change with marriages, and whose address might change due to separations, divorces or just trying to get away from an abusive spouse situation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/167369/war-women-voting

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99% Spring

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How Did Mitt Romney Get So Obscenely Rich? Robert Reich Explains

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Why Police Should Strike on May 1st

From Reader Supported News:  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/441-occupy/10950-focus-why-police-should-strike-on-may-1st

By Carl Gibson
14 April, 2012

It was the summer of 2008, right before Barack Obama’s coronation as the Democratic presidential nominee. Outside the DNC in Denver, a battle ragedbetween a crowd of protesters and police. In the heat of an argument, a CodePink activist was shoved to the ground by a policeman’s baton. She was later whisked into a crowd of riot police, while in the midst of an interview describing the incident to media.

Obama would eventually be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, signing into law a bill allowing the arrest of protesters for expressing their First Amendment rights around anyone with secret service protection, anywhere in the country.

After the DNC, the Denver Police Department made and sold commemorative t-shirts that show a club-wielding cop wearing a sinister grin with the caption, “We get up early to BEAT the crowds.” On the front is the number 68 with a slash through it, in defiance of protesters who promised to bring the spirit of the 1968 Democratic National Convention to Denver 40 years later.

There’s one giant elephant in the room in the midst of the Trayvon Martin saga. While we celebrate George Zimmerman’s arrest, the murderers of Rekia Boyd and Ramarley Graham are free because they’re police officers, not neighborhood watchmen.

Ramarley Graham was an 18-year-old, unarmed black man who was seen adjusting his waistband by NYPD. Police followed him home and shot him while he was attempting to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet, because police thought he may have had a gun. An off-duty Chicago police officer shot and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in March, alleging that someone she was with advanced on him with a gun. The man accused of accosting the officer was only charged with a misdemeanor, as police didn’t find a weapon on the scene. Witnesses at the scene allege the officer fired at least 10 shots.

However, it’s a mistake to paint all cops as unthinking brutes. Police are also victims of the greed perpetuated by the 1%. Billionaires and major corporations that get away with skirting around federal tax laws deprive the government of revenue, which translates into budget cuts at the local and state levels. And when those budgets get cut police lose their jobs and pensions, just like other public employees.

Continue reading at:  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/441-occupy/10950-focus-why-police-should-strike-on-may-1st

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The Evolution of the Butterfly

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The “Mommy wars” and media manipulation in the US election

From World Socialist Web Site:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/apr2012/rose-a14.shtml

By Patrick Martin
14 April 2012

The controversy over working women vs. stay-at-home mothers, which has dominated US media coverage for several days, is a stark demonstration of the manipulation of the 2012 presidential election through phony issues largely concocted by the media. Such episodes serve both to distract public attention from any serious evaluation of the right-wing policies offered by both the Democrats and Republicans and to push the official debate even further to the right.

The media frenzy began with remarks by Hilary Rosen, a former lobbyist, now a commentator on CNN, during the “Anderson Cooper 360” program Wednesday night. Referring to a claim by Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney that he relied on his wife Ann to provide him with an insight into the problems of working women, Rosen said, “Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we worry, why do we worry about their future.”

There is nothing particularly provocative or novel about this observation. Rosen was pointing, not to the social distinction between a working mother and a stay-at-home mother, but to the class distinction between the wife of a multi-millionaire and the vast majority of women who must work for a living to help support their families.

But her words were immediately distorted by the Republican Party, the ultra-right press and the media as a whole, and proclaimed to be a slur on that holy of holies, American motherhood. There was a universal outcry: Ann Romney bore and raised five sons. Who can deny that this constituted work?

The Romney campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail to supporters, identifying Rosen as an “Obama adviser” and warning: “If you’re a stay-at-home mom, the Democrats have a message for you: you’ve never worked a day in your life.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/apr2012/rose-a14.shtml

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Canada’s seal slaughter must go the same way as its whaling industry

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/12/canada-seal-slaughter-fur-market

The annual bloodbath is outdated and unwanted, the seal fur market having collapsed – but still the government presses on

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 April 2012

This Thursday marks the official start of Newfoundland’s and Labrador’s spring seal-slaughtering season. More than two thousand seals have been killed so far this year. Many more will be clubbed or shot before sealers hook them in the eye, cheek or mouth and drag them across the ice floes off Canada’s east coast. Some will be skinned while they are still alive. Each one of them is a victim of the Canadian government’s desperate efforts to keep the failing sealing industry afloat. Many had hoped that the seal slaughter would not happen this year. The Canadian government’s decision to go ahead with this annual bloodbath – despite the fact that there is no longer any market for seal fur – makes no economic sense.

What should have been the final nail in the coffin of the seal slaughter came last December when Russia – which had been buying 95% of Canadian seal pelts – joined the EU, Mexico and the US in banning seal-fur imports. Russian president Vladimir Putin has called seal hunting a “bloody business that should have been banned long ago” and later ended seal imports after Pamela Anderson led an international appeal on behalf. In September, the EU rejected an obviously orchestrated attempt by the Canadian government, in its challenge of the EU ban on seal products, to play the “native Canadian Inuit” card. But the Inuit live far from “the front” – the area where the mass commercial slaughter takes place – and are responsible for only about 3% of Canada’s annual seal kill. The EU already exempts Inuit seal products from the ban.

The seal slaughter most definitely doesn’t continue because of support in Canada. Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the slaughter. Millions in taxpayer money are being wasted to prop up this dying industry. The federal government pours up to CAN$7m (£4.4m) a year into maintaining an industry that nets only about $1m. While seal pelts used to earn sealers more than $100 each, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported that in 2010, pelts were sold for only about $20 to $25. At this rate, sealers can hardly cover their operating costs.

Very few sealers took part in the 2011 slaughter, and they killed less than 10% of the 400,000-seal quota. One of the largest seal-processing companies, NuTan Furs, has just announced that it will not buy any seal pelts this year. The Canadian government has been trying to peddle seal products in China, but groups like PETA Asia have been working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador even just announced it would provide $3.6m in financing for a fur processor.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/apr/12/canada-seal-slaughter-fur-market

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